Ministers dodge QR protest

Jason Young, state organiser of the ETU leading the protest yesterday against the sale of Queensland public assets.
Jason Young, state organiser of the ETU leading the protest yesterday against the sale of Queensland public assets. Sarah Keayes

MORE than 100 QR workers protested outside a State Government community cabinet meeting in Ipswich yesterday – but the ministers were nowhere to be seen.

When originally announcing the meeting, Premier Anna Bligh said she would hold a “two-day community cabinet” meeting at Forest Lake on Sunday and Ipswich on Monday.

Ms Bligh and her cabinet made it to the Sunday forum but yesterday held their full cabinet meeting at Forest Lake - avoiding anti-privatisation protestors who rallied outside the Ipswich Civic Hall.

Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) branch organiser Shayne Kummerfeld said it was an insult to Ipswich that the Premier and cabinet did not come to yesterday’s event.

“I suppose the cabinet didn’t feel Ipswich was good enough to have a cabinet meeting,” Mr Kummerfeld said.

“We were hoping to at least see the Premier here today, but I think cabinet are doing their best to avoid protests.”

A spokesman from the Premier’s office said although it was billed as a community cabinet event, it was always the government’s intention that only director-generals and parliamentary secretaries attended Ipswich’s meeting.

He said yesterday’s cabinet meeting at Forest Lake was only announced on the morning of the meeting “for security reasons.”

Workers from QR’s Redbank workshops made up a large number of the protestors, with many worried they would lose their jobs should privatisation plans go ahead.

Wally Roth, 60, has worked at the workshops for more than 10 years and said he was concerned he wouldn’t work again if he lost his QR job.

“If a private owner cuts jobs then I don’t know what I would do,” he said.

Union official Mr Kummerfeld later met with some of the parliamentary secretaries to voice members’ concerns, but described the meeting as a “waste of time”.

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